Schlock (1971) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

There's really only one reason to see this. If you are a fan of John Landis (Blues Brothers and Animal House), and want to see what he did before he knew what he was doing, this was his first film, and he did a full-length commentary for the DVD. He also stars in it!

After this film came a six year hiatus for Landis, which will show you that people were not impressed with this one. But when he got the chance, he fired off Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, Blues Brothers, and American Werewolf in London in one brilliant four year stretch. In the next two years after that, he directed Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and the respectably funny "Trading Places". He had some more minor successes, but that period from 1977 to 1983 represented his career high point. In 1983 he was 33 years old, a major success, and started downward. The decline has been accelerating. His last three movies have been Susan's Plan, Blues Brothers 2000, and The Stupids.

Susan's Plan is his highest rated 1990's film at IMDb. That was his high point of the decade. His low point was ... well, maybe he'd rather forget about "The Stupids", which would pretty much be anyone's low point in any decade. Even Pauly Shore and Carrottop would be embarrassed by that one. 


 Schlock is meant to be in the same vein as Amazon Women on the Moon or Kentucky Fried Movie or Groove Tube in the sense that it includes wild parodies of the media, but in this case it works those parodies into the story. There are two reasons why it isn't a good movie.

1. While the writing isn't bad on the parodies, the performing bites the big one, and that steps all over the humor. The ideas are pretty funny if I tell you about them. Several people are slaughtered, their bodies torn apart. They are carried from the crime scene in hefty bags, and the TV announcer offers a free Kentucky Chicken dinner to the first viewer who can correctly determine the correct body count from the dismembered limbs and severed organs. The announcer also pauses between interviewing distraught survivors to plug the midnight movie, changing his tone from somber to promotional and back again in obvious insincerity. You get the picture. With the SNL or Second City cast, this could have been funny stuff.

2. The story itself is lame. A missing link (the schlock) is unfrozen, kills hundreds of people in one town, and wreaks havoc until he falls in love with an innocent blind girl who thinks he's a doggie. Landis himself plays the Schlock. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • Full-length director commentary (with the make-up man)

Rick Baker, who did the costumes for the new version Planet of the Apes, designed the Schlock costume, but don;t get your hopes up for any Tim Burton atmosphere. Both Baker and technology have progressed substantially in the 30 years since this film came out.  

I guess the good news is that it's only 79 minutes long, so if you just have to see how Landis started out, here ya go. In that case, the Landis commentary might make it interesting for you to rent, and some people even tolerated the film itself (Maltin thought it was OK and awarded 2.5 stars)

The Critics Vote

  • Leonard Maltin 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.2 
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this DVD is a C- only because of the full-length commentary by Landis and Baker. As a stand-alone, the film is a sub-par genre parody, marred by amateurish performances and hokey jokes, interesting only as Landis' first film.

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